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10 Steps to Higher Productivity

Independent Contractors are supposed to be highly productive, right? We probably don’t like to admit that we love distractions just as much as everyone else.

At IProfessional, we work with many contractors that seem to accomplish a lot and still appear happy and relaxed.  They may not have one single secret trick, but all will admit to making specific choices that allow them to make the most of every day.  Below are ten (10) tips that can help make the most of your time in and outside of work.

1. Set up your day - Most highly productive people take the time to plan out their day.  For some this might mean start with a good breakfast to prepare their body for success.  Others may find that exercising in the morning helps to get them going.  Once you are ready, start setting prioritized goals for the rest of your day.  Don’t let your growing email inbox take you away from preparing for your daily schedule.

2. Work on specific tasks - When writing your to-do list, make sure you are setting yourself up to succeed.  A sure way to never getting things done is to write a list of large goals.  Work backwards from goals, to milestones, to tasks.  Continue to break down your work until you have specific tasks that can be completed in a third of a work day or less.

3. Schedule email time - Checking your email constantly will kill your productivity.  Carve out a few time slots during the day to use email, and adjust accordingly to project needs.

4. Work in intervals – Like all bodily activities, working your brain uses up a lot of energy.  To avoid feeling so burned out, it is usually best to work in 60-90 minute intervals.  Plan to take a break whether it be going for a walk, eating a snack or switching tasks.  This may mean adding an extra half an hour or so to your work day.

5. Limit multi-tasking  - Some projects require a high degree of multi-tasking.  For projects that don’t however, limiting or eliminating multi-tasking will increase productivity.  Switching tasks quickly and often not only causes your productivity to drop, but also drops your IQ 10 points on average.

6. Pick up the phone - Using email to have a conversation with a client or others is a bad idea.  When an email goes to multiple responses it’s time to pick up the phone.

7. Free up time - There are always new tools and ideas to help you save time.  Be an active learner of ways to reduce time spent on task, especially non-billable chores.  Many contractors join IProfessional for this very reason.

8. Eliminate distractions -  To focus on completing the task at hand you may need to eliminate distractions.  This may mean closing a door, finding a quiet place, turning off your phone, email, etc.

9. Choice Efficiency -  As a contractor you are highly skilled, but you’re not expected to do everything well.  We are most productive when taking on projects we are best suited for.  Avoid projects with steep learning curves if you cannot dedicate the time needed to take it on.  Recognize projects that may be outside of your skill set and don’t be afraid to say no to these opportunities.

10. Stay positive - There will be many times when you can’t accomplish all that you want to.  Don’t get down on yourself.  Be sure to celebrate progress, because small accomplishments can add up to big victories.   Keep plugging away at your to-do list.

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